The State Emergency Service (SES) of New South Wales (NSW) has issued a total of 54 evacuation orders across the state covering an estimated 37,530 people, and flood warnings stretched across Australia’s east coast on Tuesday as tens of thousands of Sydney residents fled their homes while torrential rains again pounded the city, flooding several suburbs.
In recent weeks, Australia’s eastern rivers were already near capacity following record downpours in several parts of Queensland and New South Wales states, cutting off towns, and sweeping away farms, livestock, and roads.
Authorities said the death tally is now at 20 since the deluge began.
Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Dean Narramore warned residents on Tuesday of “a tough 24 hours or even 48 hours ahead,” as he forecasted up to 120 mm (5 inches) of rains across Sydney over the next 24 hours.
“We had a guy walking through last night, with water up to his neck,” said boat broker Angelo Testa, who used a dinghy to rescue people in Sydney’s southwest, according to the news agency, the Guardian.
“We picked him up and took him to the end of the street. We’ve had people stuck in their houses, who had initially decided to wait out the flood but found they couldn’t,” Testa added.
“People make decisions based on past history and I think this event has shown that there is no past history similar to this event,” New South Wales Emergency Service Commissioner Carlene York said.
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